Peter Ydeen

Easton Nights

Category

  1. Photo

Written by María Ciuranapeter-ydeen-croco-magazine-3-of-11

Tell us a bit about this series.

Easton Nights is a series of night photographs of Easton Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas.  The series began with an invitation to a night photography exhibition in the fall of 2015.  The first photos were done in the evening and often revisiting sites previously shot during the day.  As the work progressed it was constantly surprising.  Night lighting is placed to light something specific.  So essentially you have a city of lit objects much like stage sets or still lifes.  As artificial light diffracts and disperses, unusual colours create a unique colour wheel. The city itself, Easton, has a long history and so as a setting is layered, complex, and rich with variety. The predominant quality of the night photos is however, the silent energy, which is vast, and the shadows which fade infinitely into darkness.  Shooting times moved from the evening to 2 AM to 4 AM when the city was most still, and the series, which was never planned, is still ongoing.

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What attracts you of the night?

Lighting in the night is very conducive to those of us who are Minimalist in nature.  Single objects or areas are often illuminated in a way that simplifies the composition and directs the attention to a singular object or area. The solitude of the night gives an energy not too different than the feeling you get when looking at the vastness of the ocean.  When the scene fades into the darkness, it is as if there is no end.  A singularly lit object, placed in an endless darkness, all with a palpitating energy.

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What is the next step for this series?

The series was never planned, nor are there plans to end it; though at some point I will move on.  I am constantly trying to improve technically and I have recently been trying to concentrate more on smaller vignettes.  It has also been a challenge to bring the photos from screen to print, but slowly I have been successful with that.  Lastly, I may be putting together books, starting with a collection from the first year.

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What is the dream that you most remember from your childhood?  

Being chased down a large grassy mountain towards a thundering ocean by Yosemite Sam, (guns blazing), Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Fred Flintstone (yelling yabadabadooo.) This is when I was three, and I remember it as exciting, not frightening.

What is the perfect song for this series?

Sun Will Set – Zoe Keating,  a close second is Encore by Nicolas Jaar.

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A lot of people feel the urge to make these kind of photos, why do you think that is?

In my opinion, the majority of photographers doing night photographs which you see on the social media sights come out a genre which follows fantasy, magic and the macabre.  The sort of John Carpenter or Peter Jackson film set.  Horror, magic, and the unreal. There are a number of others, myself included, who photograph the night because of its beauty and enigmatic energy.  It is more an extension of the work of George Tice and William Eggleston celebrating the beauty in the mundane. I have never been out where I felt frightened.  3 AM is peaceful. An addition factor as to why there are more and more night photographers, is the advancement of digital cameras, where night photography and post processing allows the night photos to be more attainable.

Tell us who some of your big influences, please.

I come from a painting background and my most influential artist is the painter Ray Kass. He would bring a group of us out landscape painting and taught us to see; patterns, lines, light ,tones and interactions. It was a lesson in “seeing” which has been the basis of my art ever since.  I was also influenced by early American painting, like Charles Scheeler, Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley.  Outside of the visual arts, I was influenced by the Romantic writers of the 19th Century, such as ETA Hoffman, and Charles Williams, who created worlds which bring the reader inside.  I have indirectly been influenced by the Urban Landscape photographers, George Tice and William Eggleston, whose work I never specifically followed, but being around art all of these years, I was aware of and appreciated it.

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What do you prefer horror or thriller films?

 I do not like horror movies, with a few exceptions, like The Shining, I love many Thrillers. I prefer Thrillers.

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If you could have a masterclass with any photographer, who would you choose?

If allowed, I would choose a painter as opposed to a photographer, Francesco Clemente, (Paul Klee if he was alive), because it is not the machine or the medium used, it is the eye, and he has such an incredible eye.  If only photographers, I would choose George Tice, who actually photographed the same areas i do, and lives not too far from me.  I have endless appreciation for his photos.

If your photos could have any smell, what would it be?

A pure clean smell, like clothing just out of the wash.

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You tell us that the romantic lighting mixed with the architecture of an old small town has become an obsession. How did that obsession start?

The series itself was never planned, however it did not take long for obsession to take hold. The element of surprise and appearance of unplanned aspects to the photos helped to create an excitement about shooting.  Each night, when I return from shooting and open up the photos to look, there is always far more than what I saw when taking the photo. The interactions of the lights, and the variety of colour, the intricacies of the architecture, even the lens distortion, were so much more than what you can take in while shooting.  The landscape has an animism to it. I love beauty, and the night has an endless supply plus variety.

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Peter Ydeen’s website and Instagram

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